Head coach Maurice Joseph was senior Jack Granger’s teammate before he was his coach.
Granger, then a manager for the men’s basketball team, was recruiting members for his intramural basketball team at GW. After his team just barely made the league’s playoffs, he decided to ask then-assistant coach Joseph to join – and he agreed.
Joseph helped lead the team all the way to the intramural championship game in 2015, where they took home the win.
“You would think that he might take it easy because it’s intramurals, but he came in, he took like four charges, he’s beating his chest, he’s screaming and I think the championship game he had 40 points,” Granger said. “He was shooting from 40 feet and just hitting everything. Insane.”
When they weren’t on court, the two spent time on the sidelines together at the men’s basketball games, where Granger has spent the last three seasons as one of the team’s managers.
When Joseph was officially named men’s basketball head coach in March, one of his first roster decisions was out of the ordinary – he asked his former teammate if he wanted to spend his senior year on the roster as a walk-on player.
“He is a guy that embodies what I want a walk-on to be, all energy, all passion, all about family, all about the program,” Joseph said.
Granger played three sports in high school, including varsity basketball, and considered playing Division III baseball or football, but never thought he could become a Division I basketball player, he said.
“It was just a really big surprise,” Granger said. “Without hesitation I said yes because that’s every manager’s dream to become a player.”
At a listed height of 5-foot-7-inches, Granger is the shortest men’s basketball player in the Atlantic 10. On the Colonials, junior guard Armel Potter – who stands at 6 feet 1 inch – is closest to him in size.
When the rest of the team went home over the summer, Granger lived in D.C. with senior guard Yuta Watanabe to get in shape and prepare for the upcoming season.
To make up for his height, Granger focused specifically on improving the skills he had control over during the summer, like handling the ball, he said.
“I never oversell it because I want people to think, ‘wow, 5-foot-7, that guy can shoot,’” Granger said. “I can’t change my height, but if I can control how well I shoot, how well I handle the ball, knowing plays, just being very cerebral, that’s what I have to do.”
Granger might not be the most talented player on the team, but his attitude and work ethic make up for his shortcomings, Joseph said.
“He is not the best player and I get on him at times for missing layups and forgetting plays at certain times,” Joseph said. “But he’s is doing the absolute best he can, it’s not for a lack of effort and he’s a great kid.”
Although Granger might not see a minute on the court in a game, his personality and charisma are a tremendous asset to the team that people rally around, Joseph said.
“I understand my role this year,” Granger said. “I don’t expect to be in every game playing, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be helping my team in other ways.”
Granger’s time with the basketball program started before he even became a Colonial, when his older brother Roby, a 2015 graduate, was a manager for the team.
As a high schooler, Granger would watch the team’s road games near his hometown of Middlefield, Conn. It was at those games where Granger got his foot in the door with the program, he said.
In 2014, his freshman year, the team had an opening for a manager position and Granger said he was the number one recruit for the role.
After graduation, Granger wants to try to stay around the game, whether it be through coaching or eventually working on the operations side, he said.
Heading into this season, the team lost key players to graduation, including former forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who was the team’s top scorers for both his years in Foggy Bottom. For Joseph, Granger’s graduation this year will be a different but noticeable loss to the program, he said.
“He is a tough kid, he is a gritty kid and a relentless worker,” Joseph said. “You talk about missing Tyler Cavanaugh, I am going to miss Jack Granger.”